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Questions to ask before buying a property for building a strawbale home

 
Angela Panzarello
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My husband and I are looking for a piece of property to build our strawbale home on. We are very new to owner building and so we are unsure of what questions need to be asked so we pick a property where we are allowed to build such a home. I'm guessing we need to discuss this with the HOA where we are looking. And the building department. So my question here is basically what questions should be asked before purchasing a property? We are specifically looking in Apple Valley Lake area in Ohio.
 
Tim Clauson
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Location: Oklahoma
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Hi Angela,

I know nothing of the Ohio area so my reply is pretty much of a general nature.
The very first question I would ask is "Is a straw bale house allowed?" If they say yes, get it in writing. You mention a HOA. HOA's are pretty notorious for placing restrictions on properties - sometimes arbitrarily.
If the property is in a HOA, get a full, written list of their rules and go over them with a fine tooth comb BEFORE you commit to buy. My personal rules regarding a property I am considering (again, this in my personal rule):
if it is in a Home Owners Association or has covenants and restrictions on it, I skip the property altogether. I don't even look at it. Each person has to decide what they are willing to put up with though.
Regarding straw bale houses: How much research have you done on straw bale construction? Have you talked to people first hand (not just watching Youtube videos or read websites) who have built and lived in their own straw bale houses? It is a good idea to do so. Straw bale construction can be very inexpensive and very good construction. The opposite can also be true. It can get very expensive. It can turn out to be less than the dream house some have imagined they would. But done well and properly, straw bale houses can be fantastic. I guess what I am saying here is, "Do every step of research carefully before you commit to any one construction method".
Hope something here helps. But then the information I am giving you here is worth exactly what I am charging for it - "nothing" But I do hope it gives you some help.
Thanks


Homestead Kids
 
Angela Panzarello
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Thanks for the response, Tim!
I've been researching straw bale for about 6 months. We are not risk takers...at all when it comes to money!!! lol Neither of us can imagine starting this project until every detail is worked out. That being said, we probably won't start our dream home project for another 3 or 4 years. We are going to take the time to learn whatever it is that we need to learn. So far we've investigated cob, straw bale, tire, and earthbag homes and have so far come to like straw bale best. There is a straw bale farm called Blue Rock Station that we plan on checking out in a few weeks and possibly eventually consulting with, if straw bale ends up being our construction type. So we are very far out from starting a project since we are brand spankin' new to eco construction. But it would be nice to pick out a property in the next year so we can finance it for a year. And so I'm thinking decisions do need to be made. But now I'm wondering if we should have plans drawn up before purchasing a property. In which case, maybe our first step is to find an architect. Do you have any suggestions on what order we should be doing things? Have you built a straw bale home before?
 
Glenn Herbert
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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You can't have meaningful plans drawn up without an actual site to build on. I suppose there could be exceptions for dead flat land with no features, but why would you want to build on such a boring place? No matter what, the orientation of the land and roads or approach will affect the way your house will function best. Are you thinking of a suburban location with a neighborhood full of houses, or something more rural where it is possible to spread out and have accessory uses of the land? Do you need to be close to a major city, or can you be farther out?
 
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